Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Introducing the Sappington Robotics Club

We are happy to announce that Sappington is starting its very first robotics club! The club will consist of a 2nd & 3rd grade team, and a 4th & 5th grade team. Each team will be comprised of 6 students, and 1 alternate team member. We will meet after school from 3:30-4:30 pm on Thursdays, November 12th & 19th, and Mondays, November 23rd & 30th. Applicants must be available on all four dates to be considered.

We will be competing in challenges given to us from the Wonder League Robotics Competition. Teams from around the nation along with their Dash & Dot robots will face off to overcome obstacles, solve coding challenges, and have a blast while they're at it. The team's mission is to help Dash make it through space to explore a newly discovered planet, and make it back safely to Earth. Working and collaborating with teammates will play an essential part in accomplishing these tasks.

If your child is in grades 2-5 and would like to apply, a completed application must be turned into the library no later than Friday, November 6th. Applications are being sent home with students today, or you can print the one below. We will notify the students that have been chosen on Monday, November 9th. We look forward to an exciting robotics adventure!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Mrs.Czaicki (kczaicki@lindberghschools.ws) or Mrs.Grebe (bethgrebe@lindberghschools.ws).

Monday, October 26, 2015

September & October Happenings

We are back at it in the Sappington Makerspace. This year we have several new things in our space. One of the most exciting new additions we have is our Dot and Dash robots! These amazing little bots can be used by all grade levels, and the activities we can do with them are endless!

We use different iPad apps to control or code these robots. The iPad apps we have used so far to communicate with Dash are "Go", "Blockly", and "Path" all by Wonder Workshop. We will also be using another Wonder Workshop app with Dash called "Wonder". In addition, we will be learning how Dash can incorporate his friend Dot to accomplish different challenges, and will be trying the Wonder League Robotics Competition monthly challenges.

We used "Go" to learn all of the Dash basics. "Blockly"helped us play Twister with Dash. We also used the "Path"app to drive Dash through race tracks that we made out of cardboard tubes, bowl in our makeshift bowling alley, and to get Dash to land on the 'X' that marked Dash's parking spot.

We have also been busy in our Creation Station where our friends upcycle different materials, and turn them into new creations. Our friends come up with a plan that they write or sketch out on our big dry erase tables. Once their design gets approved, they can use all of the materials available in the Creation Station to make their idea come to life. We have had some extraordinary creations so far!

We have also continued our work on various coding apps like BeeBot, Scratch Jr., and Lightbot. 

Once we got reacclimated to the makerspace, we started new units with each of the grade levels. Currently, the grades are all working on the following:

1st grade  has been working together in small groups to solve problems while building & coding robots with our Lego WeDo robotics kits

2nd grade is using digital products like Padlet.com to share their writing, They have been listening to read-alouds of different variations of Red Riding Hood. They answer questions about the different variations of the old tale, and post them on their class's Padlet account.

3rd graders have been using Scratch to code an animation of their name. Very soon we will share how you can view your student's name animation! They are so cool!

4th grade has gotten to explore our Bitsbox subscription which is new this year. They are following and learning the coding language, Javascript, to create apps that can later be loaded onto iPads. 

5th graders have become movie producers, directors, and actors. They have been busy creating storyboards with their small group, and have recently begun to bring their storyboard to life. They have learned how to use our new green screens along with the app Green Screen by Do Ink so that the setting of their short film can be virtually anywhere. This new technology in combination with our stop motion apps, and iMovie are allowing them to be super movie makers.

Once their movies are a wrap, we will be having an Oscar Awards party in each class. We will view everyone's projects, and will recognize certain films in several different categories with an Oscar. Mrs.Czaicki, the 5th grade teachers, and myself will comprise the panel of judges. They are really anticipating Oscar day, and walking the "red carpet".


We have even found time to explore, read, and checkout books, AND to create other amazing things in the our makerspace! Check out this Lego marble run our friends in Miss Flinn's 4th grade class made:

They revised their design multiple times until it finally worked! This is, without a doubt, putting the makerspace ideals into practice! It is our failures that make us successful!

If you don't want to take our word for it... Michael Jordan shares our sentiments! :)

Stay tuned for more pictures, and to hear all about what our Kindergarten friends have been up to!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

That's a Wrap!

As we prepare to close out the year, we just wanted to give one more shout out to say thank you to ITEF for helping to make our dreams become a reality!  We have so enjoyed our journey this past year and look forward to all the amazing things we will accomplish in the future!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How Cool Is This?!

There is nothing we love seeing more in the library makerspace than seeing our friends develop into lifelong readers, and watching them learn and grow by experiencing STEM activities for themselves. The image above was taken of a few of Ms.Fritz's first grade friends coding on the Scratch Jr. app. To say that they were engaged is quite the understatement! They were absolutely loving creating original animations while using code. 

We thought we would add to their excitement and pride for their creations by allowing them to share with their friends on one of our big share screens. In fact, most of the 1st-5th grade classes have had an opportunity to share their original games, programs, or animations that they have created using Scratch (3rd-5th grade) or the Scratch Jr. app (1st and 2nd grade).

Between the building preparing for MAP testing, and the book fair visiting the library, we have had to make a few adjustments to library makerspace time for each class. However, our students have been adjusting to the changes fabulously. Just another testament to the strong character our students have here at Sappington!

As we begin testing over the next couple of weeks, the library makerspace will be transformed into a testing lab. This means that the library will remain closed during this time, BUT our friends will still get to experience literacy and STEM activities. You may be wondering how this will be possible with the library being closed, but with some clever thinking along with the many resources/technology available to us in the library makerspace, we have come up with activities that will be able to be brought directly to the classrooms. We will officially become a traveling makerspace! The activities planned will include a continuation of coding and stop motion movie making to build on the skills that they already have, sharing new books, and introducing some new and amazing apps. There may even be time for some circuit fun!

We are excited to see what everyone discovers in the weeks to come!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Let's Train Like an Astronaut

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an astronaut? How would it feel to be weightless? What would it be like to wear a space suit and go on space walk? The NASA Train Like an Astronaut program explores these questions and more. We are fortunate enough at Sappington to be involved with this program thanks to Mrs. Driemeyer! The physical and hands-on challenges that are part of the program are designed to encourage health, fitness, and learning about space travel while on Earth but at the same time discovering what is physically required of the astronauts while traveling in space. After Mrs.Driemeyer asked if we would like to get in on the fun in our makerspace, we couldn't say no!

Our 2nd and 3rd grade friends were able to expand on what they've learned in PE class in the library. One of the many things they discovered was that although being weightless may sound like fun, it certainly isn't without its challenges. Some of the students never thought about how the simplest tasks are much more difficult in space because of zero gravity: eating, going to the restroom, sleeping, etc.

They also learned that astronauts must wear very cumbersome suits and gloves to protect their bodies whenever they are required to go outside of the space station or space shuttle in order to make repairs or conduct experiments. To give them an idea of how the extravehicular activity gloves or EVA gloves the astronauts wear can make tasks much more difficult, they were challenged to go their entire tinker time in the makerspace wearing winter gloves. Wearing EVA gloves, although necessary in the unforgivable environment of space, can negatively impact strength, dexterity, manipulability, and tactile perception in human hands. It was interesting to see how wearing gloves much thinner than actual EVA gloves affected  the 2nd and 3rd graders during their regular tinker time activities, such as, Lego construction, using tools in the take apart center, building circuits, or using markers, scissors, and beads in the creation station.

For our friends that were using an iPad or our new Sprout, we were able to show them how certain gloves will allow you to still activate the touch screens on these devices, while other types of gloves made this impossible. It was exciting for them to test the different types of gloves out for themselves to discover the differences! 

There was even a new center they could visit in the makerspace. This center was set up at one of our share tables where our friends were able to listen to an astronaut read a book aloud from the space station on the large share screen there. If you would like to check out what they were able to watch  for yourself, you can visit storytimefromspace.com.

When asked if they thought wearing gloves made tinker time more difficult, and the general response was, "Yes!"  Many students added that it got much easier the longer they wore the gloves, but that their hands were very sweaty. They said that they hoped that the astronauts didn't have sweaty hands every time they had to wear their EVA gloves! :)

Overall, the 2nd and 3rd graders really enjoyed this extension of their astronaut training! A big thank you to Mrs.Driemeyer for allowing us to participate! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Miss Muffet, Miss Muffet Sat on a... Robot?

The school year is moving right along, and it's hard to believe that Spring Break is next week! Things in the makerspace are looking a little different as each of our grades have spent the last few weeks exploring something new.

The kindergarten classes have started learning more about nursery rhymes. Each day they visit the library they hear several rhymes that are alike in some way. After they hear the rhymes read aloud, our friends have the opportunity to guess what they all have in common. Day/night, food/cooking, and animals are categories of nursery rhymes we have explored so far, and we have even more to learn about after the break.

After our kindergarten freinds determine what all of the nursery rhymes they've heard that day have in common, they can take part in various tinker time activties that are related to that theme. They can choose to take an iPad and explore the app, Mother Goose on the Loose, or they can try the different theme activities which have included:

  • Animal themed activities:
    • making spiders out of small cups, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and construction paper
    • adding yarn "fur" and packaging peanut "fleece" to pictures of kittens, dogs, and sheep
  • Day/night themed activities:
    • experimenting with moon, sun, and star shaped shadow puppets and a light source
    • manipulating transluscent shapes and stones on our light box
    • chalk drawing a night sky on black, blue, or purple construction paper
  • Food/Cooking themed activites:
    • making pretend pies with a small aluminum pie pan, model magic, and makeshift rolling pins
    • constructing marshmallow and spaghetti noodle sturctures
Our 1st and 2nd grade classes have turned their attentions to reading the Show-Me Reader Award nominees. In addition to any nominated books that the 1st and 2nd grade classroom teachers may have shared with their friends, we have read several of the selections aloud in the library. Everyone has really enjoyed the books we have shared.

After they have read the nominated books, Mrs. Czaiki has the classes play a fun quiz game based on the Show-Me Award nominated books using the Kahoot website. Using Kahoot really makes it a fun and engaging experience for all of our friends. The game show style format, music and graphics leaves everyone eager to play, and keeps them fully engaged. Each student uses their own iPad from the makerspace to login into the quiz using a unique game pin. Once they enter their player name, it "magically" appears up on the large interactive screen at the front of the class. As each question is read aloud, a timer begins to count down, and our friends tap the answer they think is correct. A score is almost immediately calculated based on their choice and response time. The top several scores are revealed after each question. Once all ten of the questions are read, the winning score is posted on the large screen. Each class has had some very close scores, and there is quite a celebration when the game ends!


When the Kahoot quiz is finished, they are able to vote on their favorite of all the Show-Me Reader books. When all of the 1st and 2nd grade classes have had a chance to vote, we will tally them up to choose Sappington's overall winner. Our school's choice will be submitted to the state committee, and one book will be honored with the prize of being Missouri's 2014-2015 Show-Me Reader Award winner!

The 3rd-5th grade classes have FINALLY made it to the highly anticipated Lego Robotics unit. They have spent the last several weeks introducing themselves to the Lego WeDo kits, and by now have built at least 2-3 different WeDo projects. This introduction will give them the building and promgramming foundation they will need to use the Lego WeDo STEM expansion kits, as well as the Lego Mindstorms when we return to school after Spring Break.

They have discovered that building and programming the Lego robots can be a bit tricky, and it's important to take notice of the small details in the creating of both. If a piece is just one stud off, or the program has one command block out of order the robot may not operate as expected or at all. Often times, the building and programming is a trial and error process. They have really grown accustomed to the idea that often times creating someting new and exciting takes a lot of time, patience, and hard work. Even more exciting is the concept that sometimes our mistakes give way to an even better idea than what we originally imagined, and that is what tinker time in our makerspace is all about!

Additionally, today marked the day that the 4th and 5th graders who read at least 4 of the 12 Mark Twain Award nominees could vote on their favorite of these books. They were invited to the library during their recess to vote. During that time, they were also able to enjoy a cookie, AND choose a brand new book as their reward for being a super reader!  

We hope everyone has a safe, fun, and relaxing Spring Break!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tinker Tree Stump

Just thought I'd share what the evolution of thought looks like around the Sappington Makerspace when we get a cool piece of cardboard donated to us! 

When Colin Davitt, LiNC technology trainer, dropped off a cool slotted piece of cardboard the other day, Mrs. Czaicki and I knew it had to be used for something that represented just how cool and unique it was. After some brainstorming, we thought we could put cards in each slot with a different tinker time challenge on each card. We decided on 5 categories each representing a different area of the Makerspace. Naturally, the app/coding category challenge cards will only have a QR code that our friends will have to scan to get their challenge. :)

While we were making the cards, I found myself thinking about the box we would put the card holder and the cards themselves in. It made sense to create a box using only the materials we have available to us in the Makerspace, and just like that the "stump" idea was born. 

If the kids ever find that they're "stumped" on what to do or try in our space, they can draw a card from our Tinker Tree Stump. Problem solved! 

It seems a logical next step for the students to design some toadstools, ladybugs, and/or frogs on the 3-D printer to decorate our Tinker Tree Stump. All of these ideas and the creation itself was inspired by Mr. Davitt's Makerspace donation! So, we would like to thank you!!

-Beth Grebe